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How to repair/restore key sticks?

  • 1.  How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Member
    Posted 08-24-2021 12:52
      |   view attached

    Hi,

    These key sticks belong to an early 20th century pianola at the Singapore Musical Box Museum. As you can see, a few have been partially chewed through by rats in the vicinity of the balance rail pin, and are now too flexible to drive the hammer louder than about mezzo piano. I would very much appreciate advice about how to fix the damage, if it is in fact possible to do so.



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    Benjamin Lian
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  • 2.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Member
    Posted 08-24-2021 19:09
    A relatively simple fix for someone with woodworking skills. When all is done, replace the key buttons.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 3.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-24-2021 22:31
    You'll need to remove the BR buttons, mill the damaged parts flat, lay in new wood (must be tightly and thoroughly fitted), trim to the key body, then restore new BR buttons as needed...fit keys to frame and pins.

    Somewhat time consuming but within the realm of basic woodworking skills.

    Pwg

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 4.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Member
    Posted 08-24-2021 23:04
    The right fillers may be able to restore the chewed up material but you have to be careful they are not too heavy and that they can be sanded, shaped, drilled etc.
    Its possible for someone with good woodworking skills to copy the profile and use new wood. Keep in mind the location of the mortises ,width and length, need to be precise. One idea is to see if Dean Rayburn can make you a replacement. By the way the key pin looks very rusted which will hinder the keys performance

    Allied Piano had a good filler product that Webb Phillips developed. I used it on a wooden pedal support dowel that a dog had gnawed. It was a powder that you mixed with a hardener and the resulting dough could be shaped/molded/sanded/drilled/stained.

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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  • 5.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-25-2021 06:28
    James,

    FYI, the product you refer to is Lakeone Wood Rebuilder. It was not a product the Webb Phillips developed, but rather was made in France and Webb had the sole distributorship in the US. It was a great product (though I would not use it in an instance like this). Sadly though, no longer available.

    This project should be wood similar to what was originally used.

    Pwg

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 6.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Member
    Posted 08-25-2021 11:25
    Thank you for your replies. I was thinking of using layers of a wood filler such as Famowood Original or Famowood Latex to buildup the missing wood. Then carefully planing and sanding off the excess.

    I was initially afraid that this would add too much weight, but maybe not because the part being rebuilt is near the balance pin. Maybe the insertion of a bit of extra key weight towards the front of the key stick might balance out the added weight.

    I guess one way to find out is to try it on a discarded key stick.





  • 7.  RE: How to repair/restore key sticks?

    Member
    Posted 08-25-2021 11:49
    You could probably save quite a bit of time and effort by working with someone who repairs and restores antiques, furniture and builds furniture. If you can find surplus keysticks it could be possible to cut a section out and transplant it using dowels, glues, epoxies. The PTG had a publication that describes how to make an entire set of keys. The copy I purchased unfortunately had very light print and is hard to read.

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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